Vitamin B12 deficiency: Dr Sara on the ‘lesser-known’ signs from paraesthesia to glossitis

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Vitamin B12 plays a part in multiple tasks in your body, ranging from looking after the function of your central nervous system to keeping your blood cells healthy. That’s why the lack of this vitamin can strike at various places. From paraesthesia to glossitis, Dr Sara explained how to spot it.

Dr Sara said: “Common symptoms include fatigue, breathlessness and feeling faint.

“However, there are a number of lesser-known signs.”

Two signs the doctor described are known as paraesthesia and glossitis.


This symptom is better known as pins and needles, the NHS explains.

While many people get pins and needles every now and then, the health service advises seeing a GP if they’ve become a common problem.

This is because the sign can point to underlying problems, including vitamin B12 deficiency.

The Harvard Medical School also shares you can experience strange sensations, numbness, or tingling in your hands, legs, or feet.


This vitamin B12 symptom, also known as geographic tongue, crops up in your mouth.

Glossitis details an inflammation of the surface of your tongue, which is “harmless”, according to the Mayo Clinic.

They explain: “The tongue is normally covered with tiny, pinkish-white bumps (papillae), which are actually short, fine, hairlike projections.

“With geographic tongue, patches on the surface of the tongue are missing papillae and appear as smooth, red islands, often with slightly raised borders.”

This symptom presents in up to 25 percent of cases, Canadian Medical Association Journal reports.

Dr Sara added that other lesser-known symptoms of B12 deficiency include:

  • Depression
  • Visual disturbance.

She said: “If you suffer from any of these signs, it’s important to consult your GP, as there are a number of different conditions that can cause similar symptoms.

“It is likely your GP will suggest a blood test to include vitamin B12 levels.”

The NHS urges seeking help quickly as it’s important for this condition to be picked up and treated “as soon as possible”.

How to treat vitamin B12 deficiency

From diet changes to injections, there are various ways to target this condition, the NHS states.

Dr Sara explained: “Treatment is by correction of the deficiency, either through increasing your dietary sources (eggs, dairy, fortified cereals, meat and fish are all common sources), oral B12 supplementation or by injection, depending on the cause and severity of your deficiency.”

Apart from animal-derived products, there are also a few sources of B12 in plant-based diets.

For example, certain companies fortify their products with this vitamin or it can be found in the likes of yeast extract.

“Check the nutrition labels while food shopping to see how much vitamin B12 different foods contain,” the health service advises.

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